European Commission approves Greece-TAP deal (UPDATE)

Details added (First version was posted at 15:26)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 3

By Aygun Badalova - Trend:

The European Commission approved the Host Government Agreement between Greece and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), allowing the new gas pipeline to enter Europe, the Commission said on its website March 3.

The agreement sets out how TAP will construct and operate the pipeline and defines the respective obligations of the parties. In particular, the agreement provides TAP with a specific tax regime for 25 years from the start of commercial operations.

"The European Commission has found the Host Government Agreement between the Greek authorities and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline to be in line with EU state aid rules," said the Commission. "The project will improve the security and diversity of EU energy supplies without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market."

The TAP pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from the giant Shah Deniz 2 field in Azerbaijan to Europe. The approximately 870 km long TAP will connect with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) at the Turkish-Greek border at Kipoi, cross Greece and Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in southern Italy.

"Today's approval of the TAP agreement is an important step towards completing the Southern Gas Corridor," the European Commission's message quoted Maros Sefcovic, vice-president responsible for Energy Union, as saying.

"The Energy Union framework strategy of February 2015 identified this project as a key contribution to the EU's energy security, bringing new routes and sources of gas to Europe," added Sefcovic. "Just on Monday, the Southern Gas Corridor ministerial meeting in Baku, which I attended, confirmed the determination of all participating countries and consortia to complete this key infrastructure project in time."

TAP's construction is expected to begin in mid-2016.

TAP's shareholding is comprised of BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Snam S.p.A (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagás (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent).

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